Shock Wave 2 (NC16)
Starring Andy Lau, Lau Ching Wan, Ni Ni
Directed by Herman Yau
The most explosive question — pun fully intended — you'd wanna ask about mega-blast sequel Shock Wave 2 is this, How the heck is Andy Lau still in this movie? Being that, let me put this most delicately, his butt was blown up to smithereens at the end of Part 1 in 2017.
Just so you know, mega explosions really mean big-a** bombs here. Near nuke-size detonations as Hongkong’s airport, their underground trains, a swanky hotel and the famed Tsing Ma Bridge get targeted for clearly CGI-ed big bangs.
It's nuts and absurd. But, man, it's also larger, fast-paced and a totally entertaining, er, blast too. More fun, in fact, than the first flick which had only a lousy tunnel in danger because whereas that was a straightforward cop flick, this one is more like a big-scale crime thriller involving crazy international terrorists who look kinda old school in a Bruce Willis's Die Hard sense.
Basically, things get more iffy and cat-and-mouse convoluted in this instalment as Andy loses his memory due to yet another blow-up here — I mean, one can only take so much concussion, right? — and we can't tell if he's a good guy or a bad bloke. One very useful tip — not all is what it seems and just remember who will always be our forever hero.
By the way, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the baddies' beef is. I think it has something to do with how unfair society is. Which is true if uber-producer Andy keeps coming back to life to hog the main role in this series and leave the crumbs to others.
Now, this being a HK-China production, continuity, resurrection, reincarnation or even outright cloning don't really matter. As long as the show stars the fearless, peerless Mr Lau who I must say, is truly a bona-fide charismatic bomb right here.
Returning co-writer/director Herman Yau simply sidesteps the back-from-the-dead matter by concocting entirely new characters in a new storyline despite Redux Andy looking exactly like Original Andy as a still-same bomb disposal expert.
He's hotshot EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) officer, Poon Shing Fung, who's cockier and flashier than the other more serious and similarly skilled fella Lau played in the first film.
“You don't save lives by risking your own,” the grandstanding Poon is told at the start of the film after a high-risk move involving a grenade which he coolly takes out of the hand of a very scared and panicky woman. Of course, the adrenaline junkie doesn't give two hoots about such sagacious namby-pamby advice.
There's a reason for this. A guy this cocksure needs to be brought down a peg or two. Ideally 10.
This time, he loses a leg in a bomb-disarmament operation gone wrong that blows a big hole in an apartment block. Thing is, Super Hyper Andy is still chirpy about his prospects post-handicap and despite the dude doing the Bionic Man thingy by becoming even better and fitter with a metal prosthetic limb, he's soon chucked aside.
Man, have you ever seen Andy lose his marbles? There's a scene where he goes ballistic against his police bosses as though he's fighting for HK pro-democracy protestors when they confine him to a desk job.
He quits his beloved force and five life-changing years later, he still bears such a sorta irrational grudge deep inside against the “injustice” done to him that you'd wanna urge him to take a chill pill when he even whips up a one-man protest banner at an official awards ceremony.
All the time I kept wondering, dude, is sitting at a desk so bad? Seriously, does life really suck this much? Especially when Randy Andy's loyal, very caring Swat-leader girlfriend, Pong Ling (China hottie Ni Ni from Wu Kong), looks young enough to be his hubba-hubba daughter. Plus his best pal, fellow EOD partner Tung Cheuk Man, is played by reliable veteran Sean Lau Ching Wan who's here to be the patient voice of reason.
“Anger is not enough to turn this rotten society to ashes,” goes the rage-against-the-system tirade of a shadowy terrorist organisation called Vendetta with whom severely bitter ex-officer Poon seems to be in league with. The gang is led by a lofty dyed-hair punk named Ma (The Mad Phoenix's Tse Kwan Ho) who's essaying Julian Assange by way of, as far as I can tell, a loony serving of sweet-and-sour pork. At which point, you're compelled to ask “Guys, what the hell is your major malfunction because all this dissatisfaction seems so 1990?”.
Director Yau (Turning Point, The White Storm 2: Drug Lords) naturally loves scripting the OTT into his pulsating, preposterously quite clever HK-style thriller plot. I'll just say that even memory can be altered, no sweat, and keep my mouth shut to avoid giving anything away.
I'll add this, though. Forget about nuking Hongkong here which is already insane by itself. Just the sight of Andy running and jumping all over the streets as he escapes a terrific hospital shoot-out scene and then evades the chasing cops on his metal leg like Captain America on steroids is sheer madness which works up to sheer excitement. All due to the star power of Lau (Andy) and Lau (Sean) and the other familiar HK actors crowding around here.
The cops need to suss out who the key bomb maker in Vendetta is and everything points to ex-hero Poon. Is he the secretive terrorist codenamed Blizzard, is he working undercover, or heck, is he just Andy gearing up for another enthusiastic shot at Shock Wave 3?
We're not sure. But as long as this series gets more and more thrilling like this, we're definitely on for more big blasts.
“You're a ticking bomb,” Andy's steadfast girlfriend tells him.
She's right, you know. Tick on please, Mr Lau. (***1/2)
Photo: Clover Films, mm2 Entertainment